Forest bathing lets nature in through all the senses, touching tree trunks, tasting the cool air, feeling the breeze on our cheeks
My sister Deb joined me on the Camino Sanabres at Ourense. I didn’t want her to have too arduous an introduction to the Camino so ordered a taxi to take us up the steep hill out of town.
The taxi laboured up the mountain and then we searched for the trail. The destination I’d given the driver was a location, not a town or even a village. We went up and down side roads looking for a place to start or the ubiquitous yellow arrows. Had we overshot it in the gloom of dawn? Just as we were about to give up I spotted a yellow arrow on the roadside. Out we tumbled. Only a few hundred metres further on the arrows took us into a beautiful oak forest. Light filtered through fresh leaves onto a path sprung with last summer’s leaves. I stood and inhaled the sweet scent of the forest. The silence of the trees wrapped around us. The anxieties of the morning evaporated in the stillness. I was reminded of the Japanese practice of forest bathing or shinrin-yoku. Forest guides take harried citizens of Tokyo out into the forest to relax and revive them. Dr Qing Li has taken the practice to the rest of the world. He recommends letting nature in through all our senses, touching tree trunks, tasting the cool air, feeling the breeze on our cheeks.
Cocooned in trees we walked on to Cea, renowned in Spain for its bread. The cafe whizzed up fresh tomato with garlic and presented it on their famous loaf. Never again did we taste such delicious tostada or bathe in such a reviving forest.